Featured Industry Leader: Tony Blodgett, President, Washington Mortgage Bankers Association

March 8, 2017
Tony Blodgett is the regional vice president for the Northwest at New American Funding and president of the Washington Mortgage Bankers Association (WMBA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with Tony about his work with his state’s mortgage trade group.
 
When did you first get involved with Washington Mortgage Bankers Association? What was the path that led you to a leadership role within WMBA?
WMBA is a fairly new organization. I was a member of the Seattle Mortgage Bankers Association for the past 20 years. Through networking and attending events and talking to people in leadership positions, I let them know that I was interested in being more involved in the organization. This led me to being on the board. This was about five years ago. Soon after, our treasurer resigned and we needed someone to fill that position. I was nominated, which got me into an executive leadership role.
 
There was a unique situation that same year–the merger of the Seattle Mortgage Bankers Association and the Washington Mortgage Lenders Association. When the organizations merged, I was asked to remain as treasurer for a second year. From there, I became vice president and then president. My term as president began in September of 2016 and runs for a year.
 
Why should members of your state’s mortgage profession join WMBA?
There are a number of benefits that someone gets from being a member of WMBA. There are networking aspects–where you can gain knowledge from other lenders. We are a statewide organization that has a full-time lobbyist and good communication with the legislative community. Companies that join us have a voice and can be part of influencing change.
 
How is WMBA involved in shaping legislative issues, at both the state and federal levels?
We have our chairman of the board focusing exclusively on legislative initiatives related to our industry. We work very closely with our local legislators. Each year, we participate in a Legislative Day, where we go to Olympia and meet with important legislators who work with the mortgage and banking industries. We also have good relations with the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions.
 
At the federal level, a number of us represent the association at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) National Advocacy Conference where we meet with federal legislators in Washington, D.C.
 
What has been your most significant accomplishment within the association?
Supervising the merger between the Seattle Mortgage Bankers Association and the Washington Mortgage Lenders Association required a lot of support from both organizations. It took a lot of effort to get those groups aligned, and we grew even stronger from the mortgage professionals in Washington State.
 
What is the synergy between WMBA and the national MBA?
Part of what we did in the merger was to become a member of the national Mortgage Bankers Association. That offered an additional benefit to our members and it gives us very close communications with the national MBA. We work pretty closely with them on anything happening with our local legislators. We may not always agree 100 percent, but we try to work with the MBA in representing the same positions on a national level, as well as a local level.
 
In your professional opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
There are not a lot of young people coming into the industry. What could help would be if more companies had programs in place to bring in entry-level people. It is difficult to get a job in mortgage banking, because the typical company wants people with experience, especially on the sales side. It is also difficult for people to earn a living while learning the business. That could be helped by a program where we bring on junior mortgage originators and maybe salaried positions to come in and learn the business.
 
What is the housing market like currently in the state of Washington?
We have a very strong housing market, led by good strong employment and growth. The challenge is a lack of inventory. It is harder to find a home and that drives home values up due to the lack of supply in the market.
 
Also, we are something of a seasonal market. The listings of homes are typically lower through the winter months, and then increases in the spring and summer months.
 
Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@NMPMediaCorp.com.
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